January 17


The Difference Between Panic Attack and Low Blood Sugar

By Gabriela

January 17, 2022

Sudden low and high blood sugar levels can be extremely nerve-wracking. People simply don’t feel like themselves when the levels are too low or too high. Sometimes they feel dazed, lethargic, confused, sluggish, or even drunk.

But, everyone’s symptoms are very different.  If they feel any of those symptoms, we recommend they speak to their doctor. Also, people have a difficult time differentiating low blood sugar from a panic attack.

This is the important difference between a panic attack and low blood sugar.

Difference Between Panic Attack and Low Blood Sugar

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear that occurs for no apparent reason without any warning. A panic attack is often caused by a stressful event. It makes our heart rate increase, breathing rate quicken, and our muscles become tense.

While low blood sugar is often caused by diabetes. But, it can also be caused by other factors like drinking for example. Even though there are plenty of different symptoms, there are some that are very similar like: sweating, trembling, and increased heart rate.

Here is a list of all the symptoms to help people differentiate panic attacks from low blood sugar.

Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar

There are plenty of symptoms that can occur due to low blood sugar. Some of them are:

  • Weakness;
  • Agitation;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Trouble concentrating;
  • Fatigue;
  • Hunger;
  • Irritability;
  • Paleness;
  • Perspiration;
  • Fast heartbeat;
  • Trembling.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Some of the most common signs of a panic attack include:

  • Accelerated heart rate;
  • Chest pain;
  • Chills;
  • Dizzy, faint or lightheaded;
  • Fear of losing control;
  • Feeling lost;
  • Feeling of choking;
  • Gagging or/and dry heaving;
  • Hot flushes;
  • Hyperventilating;
  • Nausea;
  • Shaking;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Sweating;
  • Tingling sensations or numbness.

How to Deal with the Panic of a Low Blood Sugar Episode

It can be very difficult for people to ease the panic of a low blood glucose episode. Some describe this episode as feeling suffocated, dazed, and even drunk. However, all the symptoms vary from person to person.

For one patient with often low blood sugar episodes, Kerri Spalding, her symptoms were never the same. They kept changing over the years. When she was a child, she felt like her mouth was going numb.

As the years went by, the symptoms drastically changed.  Kerri says that when she was in college, she was losing her ability to hear whenever her blood sugar would drop too low.

At times, when she became older and her blood sugar was extremely low, she felt as if she was in the bottom of a well and when she was shouting up from it, she felt like no one can hear her cries for help. Lows, in general, leave her dazed and confused.

She simply can’t act like herself. In fact, she feels as if she is on a 3-second delay with whatever she is doing. Everything, even the simplest things become difficult to do. After some time, whenever her blood sugar was low, she couldn’t hear.

It was like her ears stopped working so that the body would focus to keep the blood sugar as stable as possible. She still doesn’t know why the symptoms kept changing and changing over time. But recently, Kerri says, her symptoms have completely disappeared.

Even when her blood sugar is in the 50s, 40s, 30s, she doesn’t feel the symptoms which is why for her a CGM is so important. But, this problem makes it difficult for her not to panic whenever she looks at the meter and sees a number that she is completely not expecting.

Whenever she expects the blood sugar to be in the 100s and she realizes is in the 40s, she starts to panic. With that panic comes the desire to really over-treat the low blood sugar. The way Kerri deals with the panic is by finding a distraction.

She says that being distracted really keeps her calm, focused, and ready to deal with the low blood sugar.

To deal with the problem, she turns to something very interesting – crocheting. Crocheting keeps her hands busy and mind focused instead of thinking about eating foods all the time.

She finds crocheting kind of mindless, but also really effectively distracting. So, if you are having problems dealing with low blood sugar, we suggest you find an incredibly effective distraction that will keep your mind busy.

If you want to know more about Kerri, watch her video below.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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